Bangladesh in Sri Lanka 2012-13 March 2, 2013

Cricket makes poignant return to Matara


Bangladesh's three-day practice match at the Uyanwatte Stadium in Matara has as much poignancy for the locals, as it has importance for the visitors' build-up towards a promising next few weeks.

This will be the first match of a Test-playing team at this ground since the 2004 tsunami that claimed more than a thousand lives and damaged more than 2800 homes in this town. The rebuilding process has been ongoing for the better part of the last decade, so in terms of cricket the revival has taken its first major step.

Before the disaster, Matara used to be a stopover for touring sides of all levels, since 1973 when a Pakistan Under-25 side took on Matara Sports Club. The last team to open the tour here was the West Indians in November 2001

This game has its own importance for Bangladesh. They are about to play their first longer-version match away from home in nearly two years and have been on edge a week before they landed in Sri Lanka because of a spate of injuries. The surprise, however, has been the calmness among the touring party; the quietness coming from a developing winning habit over the past 15 months.

Without Shakib Al Hasan, the team will be slightly weaker, and that was exacerbated by injuries to Naeem Islam, Shahriar Nafees and Enamul Haque. It opened up spots for someone like Mohammad Ashraful, who missed the last Test series against West Indies at home.

He has a slight advantage over his team-mates. Ashraful is the only one in this side to have been in this town before, played at this ground, and stay at the same hotel to boot. During the 2000 Under-19 World Cup, he made an inauspicious four-ball duck against Namibia. A 12-year international career has brought him back to this venue, now with an eye to re-establish a place in the team.

Ashraful sees this as an opportunity to upset the hosts. "I think, for the first time in my career of 13 years, we have a team which could do well in Sri Lanka," he said. "When we used to come here before, all the talk was surrounded on Murali and how we will be able to play him. But this time, our team is confident and more comfortable."

From the individual point of view, the three-dayer has consequence for the young batsmen Anamul Haque, Mominul Haque, Marshall Ayub and Jahurul Islam and the young medium pacer Robiul Islam. Anamul will look to confirm the opening slot with Tamim Iqbal, who is nursing a wrist injury, while Mominul, Marshall and Jahurul are set to battle for one middle-order slot. Rabiul will look to regain his position in the Test side, returning after more than a year.

Bangladesh will try to ensure all their batsmen and bowlers have some match practice ahead of the two Test matches, so the management will ask the home side to let them play 14 players if possible. The only man missing would be Tamim. He handled the spinners in the nets, as part of his recovery from injury and looked to be hitting the ball long but without flourish. He was the only concern during training until Elias Sunny walked away from slip catching practice after being hit on the hand. However, he later bowled in the nets, giving Vibhav Singh, the physio, a breather from more medical duties.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    I don't understand why Bangladesh team always plays with poor pace attack? My opinion is that if they can't manage a wicket taking pace bowler why team must have to take a player like abul hasan who is not capable of taking more than 1 wicket and gives so many runs which is very vital.

    Moreover,there are good wicket taking spin bowler still available like mosharraf rubel,Arafat sunny,Suclyn Sajib who are capable of taking many wickets per innings and lower economy rate if we look at the first class record and recently concluded BPL history. Most importantly,why should BD sacrifice their wicket taking opportunity to maintain orthodox squad?

    Furthermore,Team selection committee, i think, should change their mentality and give chtnce to mosharraf,Elius sunny,Gazi all three to play in an innings Because they are wicket taker.

  • Chamira on March 4, 2013, 3:24 GMT

    Guys...calm down.They are not big talking Indians.C'mon.. Let's enjoy the game.

  • associate cricket fan on March 3, 2013, 22:18 GMT

    @AzAb12754. lol this is not even our third choice team. The real Sri lankan team is way different than this. so good luck.

  • Dummy4 on March 3, 2013, 19:33 GMT

    hey bangla wasn`t even SL`s 2 is development EMERGING team..which is our 3rd XI ! all top 23 players refused to sign contract..but they will later

  • Smith on March 3, 2013, 13:34 GMT

    @Lakpj: Don't get too excited and carried away as its only day 1 plus a warm-up. Half our first team players were missing anyway :P

  • Dummy4 on March 3, 2013, 12:31 GMT

    its just a practice match bro , dont worry we will be back

  • Janaka on March 3, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    What Bangladesh lacks is a good leadership, over the years. They have the talent to beat any good team. The problem is, whatever they plan prior to the match, must be executed properly, and on the field, the captain should make quick decisions by assessing the situation. I haven't seen much of Mushfiqur, but, I believe, just like we had Arjuna to build our country's cricket, they need a really standing out personalty. You see, Aravinda is the best batsman ever produced by Sri Lanka, but Arjuna becomes the best captain of all time Sri Lankan players, simply because of his personality and tactics. He was with the team, and team had trust in him. And people get blamed by him continuously, but they love him a lot. This is lacking in current Sri Lankan team as well. But I have high hopes on Mathews. Natural leaders are born to this world. Like the wolves, alpha to omega, you need to have confidence in you. It's all about taking right decision and being confident about it. Mental strength.

  • Lakpriya on March 3, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    @Emrose Shoeb Probal it seems that our emerging team too had amassed over 400 runs in one day against your bowlers. so good luck facing whatever team that you encounter in the test series..

  • Dummy4 on March 3, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    We all Bangladeshis love Srilankan team after our BD team.We dont want to fight against their 2nd string team.come on Methews & Co. . Plz play for your country's glory

  • Dummy4 on March 3, 2013, 7:28 GMT

    I respect Sri Lankans, as they are the only team to show some respect to us in the subcontinent. Sad to see their current situation. We would love to see the team play well against the likes of Sanga and Mahela, not their second string side. All the best to both teams.

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